The news of Islamic terrorists taking over two major cities in Iraq comes in a series of American foreign policy blunders. It's no wonder that Obama's poll numbers on foreign policy are under water.
Recent polling from ABC/Washington Post show that 55% of Americans disapprove of Obama's handling of foreign affairs. There are double the number of people who strongly disapprove of his handling of foreign policy compared to the number who strongly approve.
It's not difficult to understand why. Other than the killing of Osama bin Laden, it's much easier to list this administration's foreign policy failings compared to its successes.
For example, the issue of Benghazi remains in the news and for good reason. In fact, a brand new exclusive report from Fox News' James Rosen and Bret Baier finds, The terrorists who attacked the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 used cell phones, seized from State Department personnel during the attacks, and U.S. spy agencies overheard them contacting more senior terrorist leaders to report on the success of the operation. This only adds to the narrative that this administration knew from the beginning that this was an orchestrated terrorist attack yet chose to lie to us, blaming it on a YouTube video.
Then there was Obama's bungling of the situation in Syria. Painting himself into a corner by declaring a red line, it turns out that Obama couldn't follow through on his threats. Empty threats only embolden our enemies and weakens our relationships with our allies.
Despite warnings, Obama and his multi-lateral diplomacy efforts failed to stop Russia from annexing the Crimean region of Ukraine.
We haven't even touched on his failure to stop Iran from working towards nuclear capability, our handling of Egypt or Libya, our provocation of China, or creating daylight between ourselves and some of our most crucial allies, including Israel.
Then we had Obama's declaration that we are pulling out of Afghanistan, followed closely by the widely controversial exchange of Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban terrorists. Before we get to Iraq, let's get to some of the latest news on that.
Yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testified before Congress. He was short on definitive answers and long on issues he did not know about (see this excellent Washington Free Beacon roundup from Hagel's hearing). What Hagel did know, and admitted, was that the administration broke the law in releasing the Gitmo detainees without informing Congress 30 days in advance. Members of the House are circulating a resolution to reprimand the Obama administration for breaking the law.
In general, members of the Obama administration can't seem to decide whether or not Americans are at risk because of the release of these Taliban leaders. But according to one of Obama's own intelligence officials, He expected four out of the five Taliban leaders released by the Obama administration to eventually return to the battlefield. There's no way that this could be a good thing for America.
That leads us to the headlines of the day, which surround the Islamic militant takeover of two major cities in Iraq, Mosul and Tikrit. This has happened at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). As American forces pulled out of Iraq in 2011 and Syria continues to be engaged in a civil war, the ISIS has continued to gain power in the region in the hopes of creating an Islamic state across Iraq and Syria.
Not only have these al Qaeda-inspired militants taken over Mosul and Tikrit but they now have set their sights on Baghdad, the capital of Iraq and Karbala. By the way, they already have control of Fallujah, which they secured in January.
Of the many stunning revelations to emerge out of the wreckage of Mosul on Wednesday 500,000 fleeing residents, thousands of freed prisoners, unconfirmed reports of 'mass beheadings' the one that may have the most lasting impact as Iraq descends into a possible civil war is that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria just got extremely rich.
As insurgents rolled past Iraqs second largest city, an oil hub at the vital intersection of Syria, Iraq and Turkey, and into Tikrit, several gunmen stopped at Mosuls central bank. An incredible amount of cash was reportedly on hand, and the group made off with 500 billion Iraqi dinars $425 million.
This would make it the most richest terrorist group in the world.
As recently as last week, Barack Obama was minimizing the threat of terror around the world to cadets at West Point. He is either incredibly nave or flat-out lying and hoping that the rest of us aren't paying attention. But it's hard to dismiss something like this, which Daniel Henniger in the Wall Street Journal classifies as as big in its implications as Russia's annexation of Crimea. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports that military officials believe the ISIS to be the single greatest terrorist threat the U.S. and its allies facestronger than the al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen or Africa and far more powerful than al Qaeda's central leadership in Pakistan.
In Obama's desperate quest to end the war in Iraq (which he did in 2011), end the war in Afghanistan (which he's announced the timeline for our withdrawal) and close Gitmo (which many believe was a driving cause for the release the Taliban Five), his administration has been reluctant to help the Iraqi government.
According to the New York Times, As the threat from Sunni militants in western Iraq escalated last month, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas, according to Iraqi and American officials. But Iraqs appeals for a military response have so far been rebuffed by the White House, which has been reluctant to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011.
At this time, the administration still refuses to say whether or not it will consider airstrikes. Meanwhile, military support in the form of F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters are being delivered to the Iraqi government to help quell the ISIS.
There are many who will say that Iraq is no longer our problem. Then there are others, like former CIA intelligence analyst Kenneth Pollack who explain why it could become our problem: Worst-case scenario is that there'll be a horrific civil war, it will have an effect on the global economy and could cause a very significant recession in the developed world. It will spawn new terrorist groups and it will destabilize the region. This is a very serious situation.
This is what happens in the vacuum of leadership. As a veteran of both Iraq wars wrote in the Washington Post today, We are reaping the instability and increased threat to U.S. interests that we have sown through the failure of our endgame in Iraq and our indecisiveness in Syria. There is a clear lesson here for those contemplating a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Having given al-Qaeda a new lease on life in the Middle East, will we provide another base where it began, in Afghanistan and Pakistan? This is not the end state my friends fought for and died for.